English, new media, Púlpito

Welcome to the Tweetbook

We are all invited to madness.

Twitter used to refer itself not as a social network but as an information one. They established microblogging for journalist, activists, celebrities, scientists and even crazy teenagers craving for their idols, and they were good at it. You will see:

  • A follow-based filtering that delivers a wall with the topics you are interested in.
  • Telegraphic messages that do not waste your time with noise.
  • Short links that lead your to meaningful information.
  • Hashtags, so people can group contents and meet new individuals with the same interests.
  • Lists to group novelty contents so you do not have to scroll around until you find what is up with on a certain topic.

It may sound diminishing, but it was just a gateway to infinity, the doors to a network that is not based on Google Search but rather, on trust.

And now they are perverting it. Twitter used to be as a good as a design that puts itself apart for the good of the user, who is a person with goals an interests that peak much higher than contemplating a pretentious interface (this matter’s importance gets stronger if the philosophy behind it starts with micro-). But these last days we all are being invited —without a chance to say no— to try Twitter’s new «profile». But, profile? Who needs to remark such a subject-oriented approach? I thought we lied at an information network, not a social network; I thought we shared Delicious content, not our lives.

Anyhow, the great-bad deal comes up when you observe the so called profile. It resembles a mash-up in between Facebook now and Facebook three years ago, cleaned up by some Google designer. And what does it change or improve? It just gives you the feeling that you are more important than the information, and therefore it sets the stage as social instead as informational.

  • It clearly imposes you a great header that sets tweets further in the page and gives a strange relevance to a massive profile picture that comes up with a panoramic image with no clear meaning —«Just put what you feel that should go there», they would say—. It is just the size of everything; were not the tweets the most important thing?
  • It sets a three column structure that adds more noise and disrupts the common use on Twitter: the left side provided you with a context, and the right side dealt with the information itself. Now that hierarchy is not changed, but missing.
  • It awkwardly includes your following info under the massive header, so you do not really know weather to just attend to the first impression or to make the effort of scrolling for the latest ten tweets. This, which may not seem meaningful, plays a big role when it comes to read many profiles in a row.

I wondered whether behind all this fuzzy and fancy redesign something regarding usability came to mind, but I just did not find it. This used to be the reading order when choosing whether to follow someone or not:

twitterright

That was easy, right? It is just like reading: first a pic, then a name, a description and whether you want to follow that person. And repeat. Now we have this roller-coaster:

twitterwrong

Also, notice how the headers add more complexity to the reading, and the expansion of the field obligates the user to scan a wider area. Also, the amount of direction changes the eye has to do increases severely. For now on, thinking about three new followers will be harder than thinking about four in the old desing. It is just a very good lesson of how profits do not guarantee quality outputs.

Header photos were nice, discrete and elegant. They carried a humble profile picture, a description, a location and a link to your site, with all the following information others needed. All in a nutshell!

Tweeter was the alternative for me as someone who attempted to swift from a privacy-breaker model such as Facebook’s into a public-based relations CMS. It was cognitively affordable, and it diminished my information overload in behalf of my efficiency to reach quality content. Now I feel forced by a design model that does not improve user experience but uncritically adheres nowadays egocentric principles. If we already had a dilemma about collective intelligence versus individual intelligence, now Twitter steps back into a selfish-oriented portrait of their technology.

It is a shame; it is not original; it does not work for the ubuntu; it promotes a vertical network of authority celebrities against a horizontal setting of cooperation. Summing up, it focuses on me instead on us all. I hope Twitter realizes about how much they are messing the whole point of their own invention, which is moving from the hazardous territories of involuntary reporters of tyrannies bypassing media with VPNs into a narcissistic, vane and superfluous experience of the self. People are humans and deserve a better chance than such a mediocre opportunity to share something.

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